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Drake Heritage Collections

About this collection

This exhibition focuses on Daniel Morehouse, Comet Morehouse, and astronomy at Drake University and in Des Moines. Daniel Walter Morehouse was connected to Drake University as a student, professor and administrator. An astronomer, he discovered the eponymous comet on September 1, 1908 at the Yerkes Observatory while completing his graduate work at the University of Chicago.

After earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Morehouse returned to Drake in 1914 as an astronomy professor. From there, Morehouse quickly rose through the ranks. He was appointed dean of men in 1919 and dean of the College of Liberal Arts in 1920. In 1922 he was made president of the University, a position he held until his death. While president, Dr. Morehouse made lasting contributions to Drake University. He was instrumental in raising funds for Drake Stadium, the Fieldhouse, and Cowles Library. Also featured in the exhibition is the Drake Municipal Observatory established November 5th, 1921 by Dr. Morehouse. This was, and remains today, a cooperative enterprise between Drake University and the City of Des Moines. Des Moines provided the land and the building and Drake University contributed the scientific equipment and staff.

The Observatory is a prominent part of the Wavelands neighborhood and has public nights with lectures and stargazing on Fridays in Spring, Summer and Autumn.

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